A/N: Many, many thanks to Buttercup for her beta reading! As always, characters and world belongs to George Lucas. I am not him. This was inspired by the Quotations Roulette Challenge on TFN's Jedi Council boards. The quote I received was: "I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." -- Stephen Grellet.

For I Shall Not Pass This Way Again

WendyNat


"There is an ancient saying, in Naboo. I think you and I fit it rather well, my friend." Padmé Amidala smiled at her fellow senator, Bail Organa. If the smile was a trifle sad, he made no mention of it. Instead, he tilted his head and waited patiently.

"What is the saying, Padmé?" They had been going over the facts of the Chancellor's slow whittling away of Senate power, and any distraction would be a boon, at this point. They were risking much, with the petition that they were preparing.

Padmé stood, and he wondered at her recent wardrobe choices. They were rather different than her previous gowns, larger and held away from her body… perhaps she, also, wanted to not feel so small, so helpless… perhaps on some level she felt that a larger physical presence would give her a larger political presence in the Chancellor's eyes. His ruminations were interrupted when she walked to the window and began to speak.

"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."

He nodded slowly, watching her. There was a remote sadness in her eyes, and though she hid it well, it was evident to one who was close to her. Breha would likely have noticed even earlier than Bail had, but his wife had ever been perceptive when it came to emotion.

The saying… it sounded like Padmé, it sounded natural coming from her lips, but still he felt a chill at the words. She already sacrificed so much. "It is admirable. And wise. But you must also take care not to neglect yourself, Padmé," he said softly. She bowed her head and turned from the window, returning to her chair across from him. "You can't save everyone, or you risk losing yourself. And sometimes a kindness shown to one is an unkindness to another."

She looked away, her eyes distant, and he cursed himself for causing her more pain. "I… I know." One of her hands fiddled with the datapad that sat on the table between them.

Smiling encouragingly, he placed a hand over it, stilling the nervous twitching of her fingers. "But it is a good principle to live by, my friend."

Nodding silently, her other hand drifted to her stomach, a seemingly unconscious movement, and he wondered at the gesture.

But he didn't suspect the truth.

---

He was reminded of that conversation weeks later as he stared through the window at the still figure lying on a medical cot, as he watched the slow breathing of the strong senator who had done so much to try to stem the tide of power that flowed to the Chancellor – now Emperor. Strength. Wisdom beyond her years.

Pain beyond her years.

Her voice came to him, then, and it sounded so real and so immediate that he almost jumped.

"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."

She had been with child, and he hadn't known. No one had. Except, possibly, the father…. And now she willed herself to die. Was it something she saw as a kindness? A good thing, perhaps? And if so – a kindness for whom? The children? The father?

As close as they had been, he hadn't suspected… she had been in love, had been with child, and now…

Now she lay dying.

…for I shall not pass this way again…

He bowed his head, and wept.

--

Just days later, he stood in the small makeshift nursery, Obi-Wan beside him. He hadn't been able to resist holding the little girl, Leia, whenever the chance presented itself.

"I am certain. I am not a Jedi, as you are. I expect to pass this world just once," Bail said, looking Obi-Wan in the eye. Then the small form in his arms wriggled again, and he looked down, caught by the deep brown stare of the infant girl. She reminded him very much of Padmé, and the pain of her death was still like a slice of white heat through him.

She had been a great friend.

"Just once," he continued, gazing at the tiny person in his arms. "And so I must do what good I can, when I can, because I will not pass through again."

Obi-Wan nodded gravely and squeezed his friend's shoulder. "You are a fine man, Bail. I only wish there were more fine men, to keep you company."

"Likewise," Bail murmured, his attention caught once more by the flailing limbs, the clear brown gaze. "I will speak with my wife. Perhaps… perhaps this is one last kindness I can show Senator Amidala."

Obi-Wan bowed his head and nodded, then reached down to touch the other infant on the cheek. He smiled slightly when Luke's small hand reached out to grasp his finger. "A good grip already," he commented lightly, then his smile faded.

"There is already a great weight on their shoulders," Bail commented, studying Obi-Wan closely. The other man did not respond immediately, his finger slowly stroking the boy's cheek.

"There is a great weight on all of our shoulders." Obi-Wan sighed. "We will bear what we can of their burden, but in time..."

"In time," Bail agreed. He watched Obi-Wan's finger stroke the infant's cheek, and then looked back at the baby girl in his arms.

They were hope.

--

"Bail…" With a sigh of relief, Breha Organa, Queen of Alderaan, sat slowly, drinking in the sight of her husband. The blue image wavered, but was steady enough for her to see his expression. Hope and joy and the gravest sorrow crossed his features, their marriage long enough and deep enough that she could read each in turn. "What has happened, Bail?"

She nodded as he spoke, brought a hand to her mouth when he said what she'd hoped to hear for so long… a baby girl, an orphan, and one not of Alderaan. There would be no cries of favoritism or political scandal, no feelings of guilt that they had used their status to take a child from another desperate barren couple. She agreed before he could even finish speaking, and he smiled softly at her.

"As we'd always hoped. She is beautiful, my love, the deepest brown eyes-"

Breha sat forward. "Who is, or who was, her mothe-" And that is when the sorrow came back to his expression, and she stopped, wondering what evil had befallen the parents of this orphaned child, and why it had affected Bail so deeply.

"There is more, Breha. She is… the situation is complicated, and could be dangerous. I cannot speak more of it now, but we will talk when I return. But the child… she deserves to be protected." Breha felt a small drop in her stomach. Who would wish to harm an infant, a child?

Then she remembered the Jedi Temple, and what Bail had seen there, and the question died on her lips.

"Bring her, Bail. She will be protected, and she will be loved."

"As I told Master Yoda… yes, she will be loved."

--

"But why, Father? Why do you do such things? It's dangerous-"

Bail sat beside his daughter on her green coverlet. No pink ruffles for Leia, no… she had announced the evening before that she was now twelve years old and, as such, would no longer require the accoutrements of a young girl. Breha had smiled, and looked at him, and he knew her thoughts. This is your daughter, through and through.

And so she was.

"You are no longer a young girl, Leia. And you must understand that there are important things happening in the galaxy that I cannot allow to occur without resistance. I must be careful, and work silently, in secret. But it must be done."

"Why you, though?" she asked sullenly, picking at the green embroidery.

"There is a saying that may explain it best, my daughter." She looked up at him, her gaze just as beautiful and clear as it had been when she was just hours old. "I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."

Leia nodded slowly. "I… I understand."

"I know you do. I didn't doubt it."

"But I worry about you."

"I know." Bail reached out to touch her cheek, stroking it softly, and as he did so he wondered if her brother was safe. If he was happy. If Obi-Wan still had the opportunity to stroke his cheek in comfort. "As I worry about you."

"I want to help, Father."

Her face was so sincere, so calm, so determined… so like Padmé's. "If you wish it, then you will, in time. But for now, you need to sleep."

She smiled impishly at him and lay down, and he pulled the green bedcovers to her chin. "I love you, Father."

"I love you, Leia."

--

Leia stood stoically, a bastion of strength to those that watched. She was a symbol to her people, what was left of her people. They were few, and that made it all the more important that she show them the true mettle of an Alderaanean.

The celebrations had ended and now the sorrow, the mourning that had been delayed by the battle with the Death Star and their victory, lay heavy over them. A simple memorial service, to remember those lost. So many lost. Alderaan. Beauty, strength, peace. Now gone.

The words spoken by Mon Mothma continued, but she didn't hear them. Her father, her mother, friends, cousins, even people she'd known in her youth and always meant to catch up with, but somehow never found the time… all gone. In one bright flash…

But some of its people yet lived. They had afforded her, their Princess, an almost god-like reverence, but now she felt more than ever that she failed them utterly. She was not god-like; she was flesh and weakness, a little girl crying in the dark, not understanding why

That was on the inside, however, and buried deep. The rest of her was strength. Determination. Serenity. She accepted what had happened, and vowed to not allow such a thing to happen again.

The Empire would fall.

Suddenly, she heard Mon Mothma's voice catch and her attention was drawn to the woman on the podium. As the Alliance leader continued, Leia found herself, for the first time in public, having to concentrate to hold back her tears.

"There is a saying that Bail Organa quoted often, and I believe it to be an embodiment of his nature and his life. I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."

She could hear, superimposed over Mon Mothma's voice, her father's deeper tones, reciting the words to her. His favorite saying. He had lived by it.

And died by it.

She bowed her head, and wept.

---
The End.